Ah, the end of term/semester, what a great time! Exams all done, year books signed, parties to go to and murderous freshman to either avoid or kill. Whomever said school days were the best of your life, didn’t go to a school like Kings Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts.
As with every school, you have your class system; geek or jock, nerd or goth. Here at Kings its quite a bit simpler; you are either from an underworld dynasty or you are not. The “nots” are called rats and now, at the end of his first year, Marcus Lopez and his fellow rats have become the targets for the graduating dynasty freshman.
This issue is all action piece. If you haven’t been reading this book, it may just seem like chaos in full effect, with no real idea as to who some of these character are or their relationships with each other. Writer and co-creator Rick Remender does well to include as many of the schools participants as possible, meaning that returning readers may find out what happens to their favourite character. With so much action going on, its hard to see any real development other than a potentially blossoming relationship between a couple of teachers as they try to survive the culling of class sizes. Remender’s script is pretty standard stuff until the cheerleader death squad make an appearance. Their razor-sharp pom-poms are almost as sharp as their death cheers, littering the book, bring a little more crazy to this a most violent world.
Co-creator and artist Wes Craig seems to have a mix of styles going on. I think I can see some Howard Chaykin and some Tim Sale in there. With the school on kill mode, Craig manages to populate and decapitate in equal measures, pushing the action through the panels at breakneck speed. My only real concern about the art is I found it hard to distinguish between a couple of characters which led to believe someone had been killed. Jordan Boyd is the colorist on the book. Boyd uses a washed out pastel type of colour which, I initially thought may have been a subtle way to mask the violence. However, with smaller panels with an all red background used throughout the book, I may have been mistaken. Either way, the colors do work setting a visual tone in smaller sections of the all-encompassing murder spree.
This issue, despite the end of term setting, is actually part one of the next arc. With alliances being made and deals brokered, it’s safe to say that we will eventually see the ramifications, that is , if any of the characters live long enough. The book kind of surprised me. After reading the “previously on….” and then reading the book I found myself intrigued enough to wonder about the back story. The fact that an all action issue manages to get that type of response is a credit to all involved.